All-Empire Girls Cross Country; Moffett runner of the year

Runner of the year: ASHLEY MOFFETT, sophomore, Casa Grande

Ashley Moffett, a sophomore at Casa Grande, is the All-Empire girls runner of the year.

Running since she could walk, Ashley Moffett more than hit her stride during a stellar first year of cross country.

Hanging up soccer cleats for racing shoes, the Casa Grande sophomore reeled off impressive wins at the Sonoma County League finals and the North Coast Section Division 2 Championships. She even led the state finals at the start, before falling back in a strong field.

The cross country All-Empire Runner of the Year proved a strong and confident runner on the trails.

“I really didn’t know what to expect. My strategy became, get out in front and stay ahead,” Moffett said.

To be sure, Moffett was not a novice runner. Coming from a family of runners, she ran road and trail races since age 10.

“I love it so much. It just comes so naturally to me,” she said.

Still, she didn’t run middle school track and played junior varsity soccer her first year at Casa Grande.

Moffett then followed the urgings of girls on the cross country team to join the squad. The Gauchos would have another runner among the best in Northern California, following Jacque Taylor’s phenomenal four years.

Finishing near the top in meet after meet, Moffett eventually trained with the Casa Grande boys to tap her talent.

“My coaches told me that I could run with anybody. They kept pushing me to go with the faster people,” she said. “I started to believe them after awhile.”

At the SCL finals Moffett won with a time second only to Taylor’s in school history at Spring Lake, in Santa Rosa. Already she is No. 17 all-time for the course that defines the Empire’s best.

A week later Moffett took the section title.

“Getting to state for my first year, I was just really happy with that,” Moffett said.

Sticking to her strategy to go hard, Moffett was hanging with the lead pack through the first mile before tailing off to finish No. 28 in the California prep championships.

“My goal I always kept in my head was stay with the person in front of you as long as you can. I just tried to push myself,” she said.

Such a desire to run could make Moffett one of the state’s best before she’s done at Casa Grande. Her first year of cross country certainly was memorable.

“What made my year were the people on the team and the coaches and being so successful without knowing what I could do, it gave me more confidence,” she said.

Moffett’s confidence brimming, she hopes to defend the league and section titles and narrow the gap with Taylor’s times.

“Now she’s gone so we need someone to step forward,” Moffett said. “If I could hit some of her times, that would be great for me.”

–Michael Coit, The Press Democrat

FIRST TEAM
Kelly Brooks, Santa Rosa, Sr.
Kirby Franklin, Petaluma, So.
Lauren Kraus, Maria Carrillo, So.
Nicole Lane, El Molino, Jr.
Katy Lee, Sonoma Academy, So.
Amber Piersol, Windsor, Jr.
Brynna Thigpen, Maria Carrillo, So.

SECOND TEAM
Audrey Behen, Petaluma, Fr.
Chloe Hall, Casa Grande, So.
Taylor Graham, Maria Carrillo, Jr.
Eva Herbst, Santa Rosa, Jr.
Eva Luu, Casa Grande, Sr.
Victoria Tomaszewski, Windsor, Fr.
Mayra Villa, Piner, Fr.

HONORABLE MENTION
Kelly Birkland, Maria Carrillo, Jr.
Maddie Crum, Petaluma, So.
Melissa Hansen, Rancho Cotate, Jr.
Kiana Herold, Sonoma Academy, So.
Sadia Ibrahim, Santa Rosa, So.
Hailey Lynch, Petaluma, So.
Julie Nacouzi, Montgomery, Sr.

COACH OF THE YEAR
Doug Courtemarch, Santa Rosa